Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Zachary Lapelusa (age 26), with a last known address of 102 McQuillan Drive, Milford, CT, pleaded guilty today before Superior Court Justice Edward C. Clifton to the March 29, 2011 murder of Antoinette Vendetti Bruce. In accordance with the plea agreement, Lapelusa was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder, followed by a consecutive sentence of 20 years in prison for the crime of kidnapping.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on March 29, 2011, Lapelusa confronted Ms. Vendetti Bruce in the parking lot of the Marriott Residence Inn in Middletown, and forced her into her vehicle where he repeatedly stabbed her with a knife. With the victim forcibly confined to the back seat of her own car, Lapelusa drove the vehicle to a nearby Midas Muffler Shop where he parked and again stabbed the victim multiple times, causing her death.
Lapelusa drove to nearby Hanging Rocks Road where he discarded the victim's body in a culvert. Detective Walter Mey of the Middletown Police, who had been given a description of the defendant from witnesses at the Residence Inn, located the defendant in the parking lot of Third Beach. Detective Mey ultimately captured Lapelusa after a high speed motor vehicle pursuit and subsequent foot chase.
The Office of Attorney General had previously filed notice that allowed it to seek a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Today's negotiated plea was entered after discussion with the family of the victim. The defendant has no right to appeal from today's proceeding. The defendant will not be eligible for parole consideration from his life sentence until he has served twenty years. Because he was convicted of murder, the decision of the Parole Board to grant parole must be unanimous. If granted parole, he must then serve his consecutive sentence.
Middletown Police Department Detective Walter Mey led the investigation of this crime. The Rhode Island State Police assisted the Middletown Police Department. Assistant Attorneys General Feidlim Gill and Maureen Keough and Special Assistant Attorney General Ania Zielinski prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.